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A tale of two no surprises disclosures

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, March 24th, 2015 - 34 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, john key, national, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , , ,

A couple of recent events provide an interesting contrast and show how the handling of disclosures under the need to know policy by this government varies.

The most recent is that involving Carmel Sepuloni.  She learned the day before that her mother was to appear in Court facing charges of welfare fraud.  The discovery was obviously a bombshell to her.  After a discussion with Andrew Little she agreed to stand down as Labour’s Social Welfare spokesperson until the case was finalised.  This was a principled and entirely appropriate decision.

I asked under the Official Information Act if the Minister of Social Development was told under the no surprises policy about Mrs Sepuloni’s issues.  And I was told recently that she was.

Sepuloni OIA

It is interesting to compare this incident with the Mike Sabin incident.    There has been intense interest in what no surprises disclosure of Sabin’s issues were made by the police and when.  Fair enough that a Minister is told about action taken against a MP’s family.  I understand that this is normal procedure.  Even Rodney Hide has confirmed that this is a standard expectation.  So surely the Police told the Minister about Sabin’s difficulties.

The police have pretty well confirmed that Michael Woodhouse was told and he has not denied it.  Issues like a police investigation of a government MP you would think would be considered significant especially when an investigation of an opposition MP’s mother was considered significant.

So why can’t we be told when the Government was told about Sabin?

I can’t help but wonder who told the media about Mrs Sepuloni’s predicament.  Was this a sting by the Government hoping to divert attention away from some pretty bad scandals that National was enduring at the time?  And the failure to give Carmel Sepuloni a heads up should be contrasted with the very principled behaviour of Andrew Little in warning John Key that something was remiss with one of his Members of Parliament.

34 comments on “A tale of two no surprises disclosures ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    The only response I can muster to this post is: yawn.

    • Grace Miller 1.1

      This post is showing you that there seems to be one rule for Opposition MPs and disclosure, and another rule for the oiks in power.

      But keep yawning. Possibly the most intelligent thing your mouth has done today? 😉

      • Lanthanide 1.1.1

        “This post is showing you that there seems to be one rule for Opposition MPs and disclosure, and another rule for the oiks in power.”

        The circumstances surrounding Mike Sabin and Beverly Sepuloni are quite different. I can’t elaborate without breaking the law however.

        • jenny kirk

          Of course – one was for benefit fraud, and the other for serious assault charges with the potential for a long prison sentence. Two totally different events.

          • Lanthanide

            No, that’s not the salient difference, but again, mentioning it would be breaking the law.

          • Tracey


            do you mean telling the truth of when notified under no surprises policy about sabin would breach a possible suppression order cos it would reveal the police had been investigating sabin?

            • Lanthanide

              The reason for not revealing the information about when the police informed the minister is that it was “not in the public interest”.

              An MP resigns from Parliament because of “personal issues”. That is the publicly stated reason for the resignation. Is it in the public interest that the minister answer questions about when the police might have told them something about that MP? I would arguably say that having resigned for “personal issues”, it is *not* in the public interest.

              Now, should more information about the circumstances behind his resignation become publicly available, there may then be a lot more public interest in having this question answered by the minister. Also, the previous failure to answer the question on “public interest” grounds will appear to have been a mistake, because in politics it is always the cover-up that gets you in trouble…

        • Murray Rawshark

          I can elaborate without breaking the law. Carmel Sepuloni took a step back because her mother had problems and it was the right thing to do. Carmel told her leader as soon as she knew about it.

          Sabin hung around and stood for reelection when FJK knew he was being investigated by police. Whalespew has reported that the accusations are absolutely horrible. I have reason to believe he is correct. FJK kept him on and had him on a committee overseeing the same police who were investigating him.

          Now we can infer what Whalespew was hinting at, and it certainly is a “personal or family problem”, but not anything to do with Sabin’s mother. We don’t even formally know whether he has been charged, thanks to a whole heap of NAct lies and a continuing coverup.

          Do you really think that if a Labour MP had been accused of something so horrible that Whalespew was shocked by it (apart from voting for food in schools), Andrew Little would not have been forthcoming? I don’t. Look at the fuss that was made when there was a scandal with a Labour MP about someone who was over the age of consent rather than under 12. NAct certainly do have different rules for their own.

          • Lanthanide

            The salient difference between the cases cannot be mentioned without breaking the law.

            • felix

              Surely you can discuss one side of the comparison without mentioning the other.

              For example if we know that there are 2 three-dimensional objects – a ball and a box – we could say that the box has corners, straight edges, flat planes etc.

              In this way we have described the salient differences without discussing the ball.

              Of course this only really works because we all know that there is a ball, but in this instance we do all know that.

              • Lanthanide

                It is my contention that it is that single salient difference that explains the *main* reason for the difference in treatment between these two cases, and not the parties involved.

                And, I think that should the full story behind Mike Sabin’s exit from Parliament be revealed, that the Nat’s excuse of “not in the public interest” will be insufficient to continue to avoid answering the question, and also come back to haunt them.

                • Murray Rawshark

                  It’s my contention that you’re seeing things that don’t exist. Labour was transparent and open. NAct was the opposite. That’s the salient difference.

                  • Lanthanide

                    NAct have a very good reason for not being transparent in this matter. That’s kind of the whole point.

        • Grace Miller

          Claudia Hauiti?

          Mike Sabin?

          Bill ‘I cheat on my housing allowance’ English? (Just another pig at the trough, not being fired.)

          Keep yawning. Corruption and stealing, whatever what you slice it, is still corruption and stealing.

  2. saveNZ 2

    Excellent points. All the opposition parties need to wake up to the dangers of dirty politics. It is a two tier system, where National and it’s cronies can get away with anything and the rest of the parties are smeared constantly in the media often over things they have not even done. Wake up!! Organise!! Collaborate!! Strategise!!

    National is not going to give up their special advantage without a fight, so get some guts and do something.

    With all the barristers in opposition parties a legal challenge is probably the best bet as a medium term strategy but there also needs a short and long term one too.

    • Murray Simmonds 2.1

      There’s a great link provided over on “The Daily Blog” (dare I say?) by a commenter called PHILDC . . . .

      “One great big industrial espionage machine…
      see this…. Adam Curtis’s little spin on the news

      – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2015/03/23/would-john-key-really-use-the-gcsb-to-try-and-get-his-mate-a-job/#sthash.aNMMBIIF.R8kexn6Z.dpuf

      It addresses very succinctly the kinds of issues that democracies all around the world are currently facing.

      This is most definitely NOT yawnable stuff.

      Wake up, people, or we will all find our precious democracies trampled into the mud by the current load of crap politicians who have surfaced almost simultaneously within the world’s so-called democracies in this, the first part of the 21st Century.

      New Zealand is no exception.

      The world most definitely WILL go to hell in a handcart if we, the people, allow it to happen before our very noses!

    • sirpat 2.2

      agree totally….something is rotten in Denmark!!!…….. Organise!! Collaborate!! Strategise!!!……mmmmm maybe not the internet has been the demise of effective protest.

  3. Karen 3

    Great post Mickey.

    I also wondered who told the media about Carmel’s mother – it seemed a very convenient diversion at the time it came out.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1

      Yes the new ‘kid’ on the block, Heather Duplessis- Allan has got in quickly with some exclusives.

      Translation: Shes become the new go to person for The PMs media team with Brook Sabin damaged goods as far as the “hits on Mps” department is concerned

      The real situation if Sabin was a labour or even a NZ First MP, it would have been spilled in the week before election

      • Anne 3.1.1

        Oh yes, that became apparent last night with her ‘appraisal’ from South Korea re- the fallout from the latest GCSB scandal. Nothing to see here folks, move on now that’s good boys and girls.

        I watched her recently in a clip concerning the Labour Party (might have been to do with Andrew Little – can’t remember) but the faintly sneering tone of her voice gave her allegiance away. The Rachel Glucina of the TV world?

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Exactly why she got the job- after being pushed out of Seven Sharp by Hosking !

          They said to her : TVNZ wants a paddy gower, but better looking

        • veutoviper

          Also wife of Barry Soper.

  4. veutoviper 4

    Excellent post, MS.

    I had also found the different handling of these two cases ironic, to say the least.

    Thanks for following through and getting that response re the Sepuloni case.

    Dirty Politics continues unabated …..


    • Anne 4.1

      Yes, the stark contrast should be enough to make any decent NZer sit up and take stock of the dishonest and sleazy behaviour of this government – a behaviour which has apparently filtered down to the rank and file of some top government agencies – but sadly it won’t.

      You can bet your bottom dollar the spiteful Paula Bennett was in there somewhere.

  5. Penny Bright 5

    That’s the question that concerned Northland voters need to ask ex-Wall Street banker, (part-time) Prime Minister John Key, when he flies back to Northland, and flaps his arms about, BEGGING the disaffected, disillusioned and disappointed (former) National Party members / supporters / voters to vote for ‘amateur hour / political newby’ Mark Osborne?

    WHEN exactly did Police, under the ‘no surprises’ policy, advise the (then) Minister of Police, that Mike Sabin was under Police investigation?

    THAT, in my opinion, is THE question to be asked.

    It has nothing to do with the Court case, or name suppression.

    If I were up in Northland, I’d whip up a placard that asked that question, and hold it as close as I could to John Key, when he makes his last ‘dance of the desperate’ Northland trip.

    Penny Bright

  6. Kiwiri - Raided of the Last Shark 6

    And after being given ‘no surprises’, the Minister of Police did absolutely totally completely utterly nothing to ensure, in some way, whatever way (nudge nudge wink wink), that it was conveyed to the Prime Minister.

    Ha ha.

    The John Key Bullsheet 😉 – are you lovin’ the feelin’?
    eat it up!

  7. Clemgeopin 7

    “Sabin’s difficulties”


  8. saveNZ 8

    When the police do not tell the truth for political reasons then we are entering into a police state.

    Manipulating the timing is also calling the police into disrepute – especially when the suppression is released and we finally find out what National were hiding about Sabin.

  9. Ovid 9

    Is it routine for the minister to be informed in all cases when welfare fraud is prosecuted, or just because the alleged offender is a relative of an MP? I’d hazard it’s the former as MSD may need to provide evidence in court in every case when welfare fraud is prosecuted.

  10. Penny Bright 10

    Mathew Hooton has tweeted the question – is Winston Peters going to drop the Mike Sabin ‘political bombshell’ in the House – today or tomorrow?

    Penny Bright

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